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Pye Corner Audio: The Black Mill Tapes Volumes 1 & 2

Posted on 23 May 2012 by Bowlegs

Pye Corner Audio

More hauntological high jinks from the aptly named Pye Corner Audio. Sharing much common ground with the Ghost Box stable, Pye Corner adopt the well worn conceit of the objet trouvé, realigning the future through the recent past, swathed in the mystery and menace of a suburban 70’s landscape. Think of the darkness and weirdness of the BBC’s Life on Mars series before it became a cliché, its colours and contours, its sense of urban strangeness and creepy reverie. Despite mining similar seams of 70’s ‘folk’ nostalgia as Mordant Music and the Advisory Circle, there seems to be a little less tongue in cheek in play here. There is a suburban, post industrial feel that has more in common, both conceptually, and to some extent musically, with forgotten Britfilm classics like the Will Malone scored Death Line, Skolimovski’s Deep End and the post-Hammer terror of Norman J Warren, than with the oft referenced pastoral dystopia of films like The Wicker Man.

There is much to enjoy and admire across this satisfyingly consistent two-parter. We are treated to the gloomy ambient synthlore of public information films, 70’s horror-core soundtracks, and lustrous, dreamier rhythmic excursions which recall genre defining benchmarks like the early works of Boards of Canada and more recent beat led practitioners like Solar Bears. Sometimes the lost and found routine sits a little uncomfortably with the narrative suggested by the tracks themselves. Like all good ideas you can have too much of a good thing and in this case the tracks transcend their context with strong reference points that stand up to the clever backstory.

So this is less a soundtrack to lost bucolic customs, and instead more suggestive of soul searching drives through darkening country lanes bisected by the scars of motorways and concrete flyovers. It’s a fine amalgam of Mogador Surrey, motorik meanderings and Mogadon malaise; sonic matchsticks for the eyes in the uneasy darkness before dawn.

-Mark Williams-

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KWJAZ: KWJAZ

Posted on 11 April 2012 by Bowlegs

KWJAZ - ALBUM REVIEW

KWJAZ is transmitting from a fog bound Bay area, illuminated by sodium street-light and caught in early hours torpor, somewhere between reminiscence and recollection, in a space where the mundane regularly morphs into the fantastical.

The clue is in the name; this cartography of nostalgia is imagined as a radio broadcast channelling soft FM jazz, muted avant-pop melodies and groove based electronic abstraction, that provides for a constantly shifting and evolving picture. These lysergic, woozy and zonked out transmissions from native San Franciscan Peter Berends, aka KWJAZ, take us on a lo-fi odyssey through an imaginary downtown, taking in seasick pitching, submerged electronics, smudgy interludes, and ambient, reverb drenched transitions along the way.

Lounge neo-soul-jazz and tripped out spacy workouts are the key reference points and keep the sound-world located somewhere between Ariel Pink’s and Dilla’s postcodes, where grafted synths, fractured grooves and smeared progressions daub warped pictures onto the saturated reels.

Clint Eastwood’s iconic late night DJ Dave Garver, in the cult movie Play Misty For Me, memorably describes his particular brand of small hours ‘easy’ as a “taste of fog and a bowl of soul” and that fits the bill brilliantly here. It’s the sound of late afternoon haze and shapes that melt into the night air. It’s the sound of a half life lived in drift, the soundtrack to the most poignant siestas of your life. The circuit bent radio reverie is seductive, whichever side of the Atlantic you hail from – the busted coordinates of Steely Dan stretched to fit the joys of hyperreal collage. Fans of Lone, Hype Williams, Rangers, James Ferraro and Solar Bears will find much to admire in these twisted broadcasts from the outside.

It’s getting late now – almost too late – as Play Misty’s embattled DJ Dave G puts on the ‘ghost’ reel that just might help placate a psychopathic fan, while he takes flight to save the day. KWJAZ’s genre bending odes to tilt shifted FM nights are fitting candidates for that lonely reel, replaying the easy as the not so easy, reworking the lounge as it soundtracks the street, while revealing the glimmer of rough diamonds hewn from the soul of the smooth.

-Mark Williams-

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Solar Bears

Posted on 09 April 2012 by Bowlegs

Solar Bears

We’ve got a seriously nice track from Solar Bears for you here. It’s taken from their forthcoming record, Supermigration, which has no release date as yet. One things for sure, any more tracks like this and we’ve got one hell of a sophomore on our hands.

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Mmoths

Posted on 20 March 2012 by Bowlegs

Mmoths Lookout

Jack Colleran, aka Mmoths, hasn’t wasted anytime on getting his music to the masses. The 18 year old got signed the day he received his exam results, he’s being name-checked by Flying Lotus and is sharing the stage with the likes of Aphex Twin and Zomby. I mean we’ve heard of fast-tracking but this is ridiculous. But when you hear the debut EP (EP1) it’s fairly obvious Jack has more than mastered the electronics, the ambience and the writing of dream-like loops that nestle somewhere deep inside your unconscious.

Based on the speed of his ascent we knew we better catch up with Jack sooner rather than later.

Bowlegs: You’ve released a great EP, been name-checked by Flying Lotus and you’re gigging with Aphex Twin and Zomby. Where’s your head at right now?

Jack: My head’s all over the place. Trying to deal with things as they come my way. Resisting looking back or forward.

Bowlegs: Your music never feels obvious; there isn’t a reliance on dropping in new sounds or riffs to build the momentum. I guess that is the strength, letting the music breathe in its own space – would you agree?

Jack: I honestly don’t know. I think it’s just however people want to interpret it. But yeah, that’s a pretty nice way of describing it. I’m not sure, but I just try not to have sounds conflicting with one another and have new patterns happen naturally.

Bowlegs: How did you get your music on the radar when there is so much vying for attention? Did you find being relatively young a hindrance at all?

Jack: I’m not really sure. People just seemed to pick up on it and it spread around. Blogs played a big role in getting it out. The only thing that was a hindrance was studying for my final exams when things were kind of taking off. That really fucked with my studying and shit. Not that I was ever a good student or whatever. Actually it was kind of an excuse to study less.

Bowlegs: So how do you start writing a new track – get a loop and go from there? Do you decide once it’s complete if you want vocals on it or not?

Jack: Just build from an idea. I never really take inspiration from things that are going on around me. Well maybe I do. But I never sit down and write a track about something that’s happened or whatever.

Bowlegs: How did you end up getting Keep Shelly in Athens’ singer Sarah P on the rather awesome Heart?

Jack: John from Solar Bears put me in touch with her and we went from there.

Bowlegs: Am guessing an artist like Aphex Twin is an inspiration/influence? Who else?

Jack: Evenings, Shlohmo, Mount Kimbie.

Bowlegs: Did you spend long periods of time deciding which tracks to use for your debut EP? Do you have many more ready to go after this release?

Jack: I had to go through loads of unfinished ideas and decide which ones would work together as a collection of sounds. I wanted to release something which would show whoever’s listening what I’m about and what I’m doing now.

Bowlegs: With the buzz your music is making on the web do you feel an elevated amount of pressure on what to do next?

Jack: Sometimes. You can take it both ways. Sometime I find it reassuring to know that there’s that many people behind me and supporting my stuff.

Bowlegs: Tell us an electronic album we should check out immediately?

Jack: Not an album, but everyone should check Evening’s North Dorm EP.

Bowlegs: And the plan for 2012 is?

Jack: No plans. Just taking in things as they come.

Mmoths’ EP1 is available now

-Photos by Jack Delaney-

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Solar Bears – She Was Coloured In

Posted on 26 January 2011 by Bowlegs

Irish duo Solar Bears created quite a buzz with their debut EP – Inner Sunshine – last year. Now they have followed it up with an impressively appealing synth-based debut album.

Opening track ‘Forest of Fountains’ begins with a Jack Nicolson voiced sample from the 1975 existential art-house movie, ‘The Passenger’, which is an early indicator of the vibe Solar Bears are going for here. The influence of cinema pervades all, not least in the band’s own name, which recalls another metaphysical piece of celluloid: Andrei Tarkovsky’s Russian sci-fi classic ‘Solaris’, remade in 2002 and featuring an excellent ambient soundtrack by ex-Chilli Pepper drummer Cliff Martinez. That masterful piece of dreamlike trance is ironically far more experimental than ‘She Was Coloured In’, which is, at heart, a pretty formulaic piece of electronica. No bad thing when it’s done this well, however.

Indeed, there’s a warmth and optimism to the material, combined with a sure handedness and awareness of what they are doing, which makes the analog-retro quality of ‘She Was Coloured In’ more than just homage: it has an appeal all of its own which is well worth fans of Board of Canada or even Air seeking out. Squeeze your eyes shut and imagine you’ve put the wrong CD in by mistake and ‘Primary Colours at the Back of my Mind’ could be the latter down to a tee. Listening to the speak-and-spell vocals of ‘Children of the Times’ will have you reaching for your Kraftwerk all over again, but not to check for plagiarism, simply because it will remind you why you loved this kind of music in the first place.

‘She Was Coloured In’ is like a love letter to Krautrock, electronica soundtracks and ambient techno, which by sheer enthusiasm and skill stands on its own as an enjoyable, if not essential, listen. KT

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